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Imagine...your mobile phone seeing through walls

Posted: 19 Apr 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS  terahertz  electromagnetic spectrum  research 

An imager chip can turn your mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and so on...? This is now possible, say researchers from University of Texas at Dallas.

Researchers have found a way to make the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum—one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared—for consumer use and medical applications.

"We've created approaches that open a previously untapped portion of the electromagnetic spectrum for consumer use and life-saving medical applications," said Kenneth O, professor of electrical engineering, UT Dallas and director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE). "The terahertz range is full of unlimited potential that could benefit us all."

Using the new approach, images can be created with signals operating in the terahertz (THz) range without having to use several lenses inside a device. This could reduce overall size and cost.

Additionally, the development of CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) chips that are used in most consumer electronic devices such as smartphones, HDTVs, game consoles etc.

"CMOS is affordable and can be used to make lots of chips," O said. "The combination of CMOS and terahertz means you could put this chip and receiver on the back of a cell phone, turning it into a device carried in your pocket that can see through objects."

Due to privacy concerns, the researcher team are focused on uses in the distance range of less than four inches.

"Consumer applications of such technology could range from finding studs in walls to authentication of important documents. Businesses could use it to detect counterfeit money. Manufacturing companies could apply it to process control. There are also more communication channels available in terahertz than the range currently used for wireless communication, so information could be more rapidly shared at this frequency."

"There are all kinds of things you could be able to do that we just haven't yet thought about," said O.

The team said they will work to build an entire working imaging system based on the CMOS terahertz system.

The research was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).





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